Health officials from the Pan American Health Organization are expecting a significant upsurge of cholera cases in Haiti because of flooding and damage to the country’s water and sanitation infrastructure following Hurricane Matthew, according to a press release.
The major storm resulted in more than 300 deaths in Haiti, mainly in the southwest. Approximately 350,000 citizens are in need of assistance, according to recent reports.
Ciro R. Ugarte
During a briefing to the Global Alert and Response Network, Sylvain Aldighieri, MD, of PAHO’s Program on Health Emergencies, said that mathematical modeling of rainfall, water patterns and other factors predicted that at least three cholera outbreaks will occur in the Southwest, the Artibonite basin, and in the north.
According to PAHO, Haiti has had a cholera epidemic since 2010, with more than 790,000 cases and 9,300 deaths reported. However, because of stronger prevention and control efforts, there has been a significant decrease in new cases from 300,000 in 2011 to roughly 36,000 in 2015. To maintain progress, PAHO officials are calling for additional response efforts.
“Water and sanitary conditions are expected to worsen due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew,” Ciro R. Ugarte, MD, head of PAHO’s Program on Health Emergencies, said in the release. “Efforts were already being directed to control the current epidemic of cholera and the high levels of vector-borne and water-borne diseases, but there is a limited capacity to respond to those challenges. There is now an urgent need to significantly expand the response to prevent a surge of cholera cases and save lives.
Figure 1. PAHO officials expect to see a significant increase in cholera cases in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew.
PAHO–mobilized field teams have been supporting response efforts since the epidemic began, particularly focusing on health facilities. Currently, PAHO is assembling field teams in Jeremie and Les Cayes, and three additional PAHO experts have been deployed to join nearly 50 volunteers in Haiti supporting hurricane management.
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